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Meester in “Dutch
craftsman's skill must be dispensed with to secure these results, he decides to let it
for the sake of the higher truths. But his broader and more generalized treatment of his subject reveals always masterly ability on the technical side as well.
The late Mr. J. S. Forbes, of London, at a banquet given in Holland in Israels' honour, “spoke of the greater things of life as small, J. de and the smaller things as great, in alluding to the pictures of the master; and said if his Painters of humble men and women, and their poverty- teenth stricken homes, speak to us apparently of the Century.” smaller things of life, for all that, the greater things lie hidden within them, and it is our want of intelligence if we do not perceive them.”
Can we judge of Israels' views of life from his pictures? It is an interesting and fascinating study. His work, like that of Rembrandt, the artist with whom he has most in common, is that of one who ponders over what he sees, and it reveals as much as he cares to tell of his thoughts. He paints all the various stages of life. When representing the springtime of
existence, he sees, as is only natural, the joy of mere being, and he thoroughly enters into it. He shows us the happy children on the seashore, playing in the sand, building castles in the air. Like little voyagers starting out in life, they are occupied, as others who have travelled farther on, with the trifles around them, and how serious these seem! Bright and cheerful are these scenes; the sea is always calm and peaceful, and the sky a perpetual azure blue.
Then in the pictures of which the “Bashful Suitor” in the Metropolitan Museum in New York is a type, we find the lovers, in those years when “to be young” is “very heaven," absorbed in themselves and their own feelings. The landscape seems to fall into tune and to sympathize with them. Israels has a peculiar way of painting these country roads and fields. The colour, except in his small window-landscapes, is unreal but imaginative. Such greens and blues and browns are quite unlike anything we can see, but what a depth of feeling and wealth of suggestion there is in them! He gives us something so strongly personal we feel it is a very part of himself; and, like the
"Wedding Guest,” we listen and learn new things or old things in a new guise, from one who has come through more than the ordinary experience, and knows the people who must sympathize with him and hear him tell his tale of life.
He also frequently paints the mother with her child, the peasant girl sitting near a window in her home sewing, or, as the twilight falls and darkness gathers, just looking out and thinking; the fisherman's daughter seated on a knoll of the sand dunes near the sea, waiting for the return of the boats; the old woman resting before a comfortable fire, enjoying the evening of life, or her companion lighting his pipe. Israels devoted himself to the painting of this peasant life, and as the first to depict it in this natural yet very personal way, his name will always be associated with this branch of art in a very special manner. He has a very intimate sympathy with the toilers of the land, and he portrays their homes and occupations in a loving and poetic manner, always trying to show the inner and spiritual side of their lives.